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Indian artists Jitish Kallat, Bharti Kher in Australia exhibit

Business Standard

Mahatma Gandhi's speech delivered on the eve of the famous Salt March has been transformed into a giant installation by Jitish Kallat, who is among 20 artists from Asia participating in the 'Go East' exhibit in Australia.

The Mumbai-based artist has created a vast field of bone-shaped letters that spell out the Bapu's speech delivered on the eve of the historic 1930 Salt March.

The sculpture 'Public Notice 2' displayed at the entrance of the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) has been sourced from the Contemporary Asian Art collection of Australian philanthropists Gene and Brian Sherman.

Kallat renders Gandhi's entire speech in fiberglass fabrications of bones that are shaped like alphabets, and placed on rows of shelves. Organisers say it is an inspiring homage to the human rights and social justice movements of the 20th century.

"In today's terror-infected world, where wars against terror are fought at prime television time, voices such as Gandhi's stare back at us like discarded relics," Kallat said.

'Public Notice 2 is the second of three works, that comprise the text of speeches delivered by three prominent personalities in Indian history.

The first in the series comprises the Tryst with Destiny address by the India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru while the last is Swami Vivekananda's historic speech in Chicago in 1893.

The 'Go East' collection, which puts together 31 artworks from 10 countries including India, China, Indonesia, Japan, Tibet, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, is being showcased at the AGNSW and the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation in Paddington (SCAF).

The artists' practices range from installation and performance to photography and sculpture.

AGNSW Director Michael Brand said 'Go East' celebrates a significant collection created by two individuals renowned for their long-standing commitment to the visual arts.

"The creativity that results from public art museums and private collectors working together in this way is full of powerful possibilities, which bring great benefit to civic life," Brand said in a statement.

Delhi-based Bharti Kher's 'Portrait of a lady II' (2012) in cement and saris is also on view.

Director of collections at the Gallery, Suhanya Raffel said the show offers visitors a rare insight to the Shermans' personal journey as collectors, besides opportunity to consider Australia's unique geographic and cultural connection to Asia.

"The works included in the exhibition weave together a rich tapestry of histories from across Asia. Although each artist is unique, their works collectively paint a picture of the region and Australia's place within it," Raffel said.

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